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This Nordic nation is making companies prove they pay women as much as men

Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images

Iceland celebrated International Women's Day on Wednesday by announcing a new law requiring companies to prove that they pay women as much as they pay men.

The trailblazing legislation says that all companies with 25 or more staff must acquire a certificate that confirms they provide equal pay to all employees regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality.

Similar schemes already exist in both Switzerland and the U.S. state of Minnesota but do not mandate the policy for all companies within their remit.

Iceland has been a consistent flagbearer for gender equality, scooping up the top spot in the World Economic Forum's annual Global Gender Gap report for an eighth consecutive year in 2016 and leading the group of only five countries out of a total of 144 researched which have succeeded in closing their overall gender gap by 80 percent or more. Iceland is also one of the most rapidly improving countries having closed its gender gap by 12 percent since the first edition of the index was released in 2006.

However, the report also highlights that the Nordic nation ranks only 11th in terms of gender pay equality with its achievement score falling just below 80 percent.

Other Icelandic initiatives geared toward equality include a minimum 40 percent quota for women on boards of companies that employ more than 50 staff.

The legislation is now headed for parliament with the government is aiming to implement the new law by 2020 should it be approved as part of an announced goal of eradicating the gender pay gap by 2022.

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